Trump re-writes Obama-era offshore drilling regulations

by WorldTribune Staff, May 3, 2019

The Trump administration has relaxed what it referred to as the Obama administration’s “unnecessary regulatory burdens” on offshore drilling.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced the rule revision on May 2 in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a major location for offshore drilling near the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil industry has long complained that parts of the Obama-era rule were unnecessarily burdensome and sought to have them overturned. / Wikimedia Commons

The Obama administration ratcheted up regulations on offshore drilling after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The “final rule puts safety first, both public and environmental safety, in a common sense way,” Bernhardt said. “Incorporating the best available science, best practices and technological innovations of the past decade, the rule eliminates unnecessary regulatory burdens while maintaining safety and environmental protection offshore.”

The Interior Department said safety changes to its Well Control Rule include loosening requirements for real-time monitoring of offshore drilling operations and easing requirements for companies to hold third-party certifications of easy access emergency equipment, to be used in the case of explosions or oil and gas leaks from wells.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, America is a leader on energy resulting in greater security and economic prosperity,” Bernhardt said.

The Department of the Interior under former President Barack Obama finalized the rules in 2016 shortly before President Donald Trump won the election. After Trump took office, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), an Interior agency, issued about 1,700 waivers for Deepwater Horizon-related regulations over a 20-month period, Politico reported in February.

BSEE has granted waivers to companies that are using procedures that are at least as effective as the regulations instituted by the Obama administration. An elevated number of waivers being issued is a signal the regulations in place might be outdated, National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email in February.

“The Obama administration recognized that there was more than one way to skin a proverbial cat and where a company could prove that an alternative approach is safe and efficient, a waiver could be granted,” Luthi said. “To become unhinged over the Trump Administration granting more waivers than the Obama administration is akin to being surprised there is more daylight after the sun comes up.”

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